19, 2002 (USA)
> As you probably know by now, Gunvalkyrie was originally
slated for the Dreamcast. A combination of the fact
that Sega morphed into a third party publisher/developer,
and maybe a little monetary contribution from Microsoft sealed
this game for Xbox. I have come to respect Smilebit
more and more with each new release, so let's see if they can continue
their trend of greatness.
> Absolutely stunning. Smilebit has the Xbox
GPU down pat. You'll see a seamless universe right out of your wildest
sci-fi imagination. Areas include a Valley (filled with pillars,
caverns and lots of room to move around); Civilian Base (reminiscent of
with multi-level rooms and corridors); Naglfar's Pit (an enormous cavern
with a towering ceiling, many platforms and a poisonous lake); and Yggdrasill
(a cavernous realm littered with danger which leads to the ultimate encounter).
Of course, each locale has multiple levels to complete and bosses to defeat.
> Special effects are abundant in Gunvalkyrie. These
are some main aspects of interest. The Xbox warping
effect occurs when you do one of various jetpack boosts. Your weapons
create a halo of lighting effects as they travel to their target.
Last but not least, in Naglfar's Pit, you're in a sort of pixie mist throughout,
which really helps give you depth perception and a sense of "being there".
> This is where you'll either love or discard this game. Initially,
the controls are rather intuitive, and the advice you get along the way
is helpful. You can run in all directions, independently look around
and target enemies simultaneously. Selecting weapons, firing, and
jumping is simple too. As you progress, you'll need to master the
jetpack boost techniques. This is the part that everyone is talking
about when saying the gameplay of Gunvalkyrie has a steep
> Gunvalkyrie features a boost technique combo system which
allows you to remain airborne almost indefinitely (if you're really good).
To achieve this, you must press down the left stick and alternately boost
forward, to either side, or backward. Ideally at the same time, you
need to target enemies and adjust your point of view with the right stick,
while firing with the right trigger. Sounds hard because it is.
But it's not impossible and is very rewarding to anyone willing to master
the boost combo.
> Hovering is also a much needed move, which can easily be mastered though.
Power-ups can be acquired as well and are useful. Kelly has two weapons
at her disposal (machine gun and multi-target capable rifle) and a Plasma
Hook for Bionic Commando like movements (which allows her to reach new
heights). Saburouta has only one, more powerful gun and is not as
dexterous. After each mission you're awarded GV points (based on
your grade in various categories), which can be used to upgrade your weapons,
> Gunvalkyrie's music is mostly mood setting and melodic,
yet not really memorable. It's quite solid and well suited nonetheless.
The sound effects are great and get the job done nicely. Targeting
and warning cues help with situational awareness. Lastly, the voice
acting is well done while not being over used. All the sound levels
can be set in the Options menu.
> There are a lot of levels and bosses to defeat in this game. If
you make it to the end, you'll surely be a master of Gunvalkyrie's
gameplay. You can play two characters in the game -- Kelly (more
agile, extra weapon, and highly upgradable), and Saburouta (slower, more
powerful gun, and not always available). The briefings and maps are
detailed and helpful. This game is much more fun than I thought it
would be. I'm certain, though, that your enjoyment will be a function
of learning the gameplay.
> Gunvalkyrie continues Smilebit's charge into
the future of quality, original games. The graphics are state-of-the-art;
the control is unique, challenging, and rewarding; the music is solid but
not too memorable; and ultimately your fun will be measured by your ability
to master the gameplay. This game reminds me of something Treasure
is capable of making...
9.0 | Graphics: 9.7 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 8.9